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Six arrested in Italian crackdown on migrant worker exploitation

by Reuters
Friday, 5 May 2017 15:53 GMT

Farm workers pick tomatoes in the countryside near the town of Foggia, southern Italy, September 24, 2009. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

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Investigators found around 30 migrants, each paid 15-20 euros a day off the books for 10-hour shifts picking potatoes and strawberries

By Isla Binnie

ROME, May 5 (Reuters) - Six people were arrested on Friday, suspected of taking part in a scheme to recruit migrants from reception centres and put them to work illegally in the fields of southern Italy, police said.

The detentions in Calabria, mainland Italy's southwestern tip, were the first under new legislation meant to stamp out the exploitation of workers, many of them refugees, in the agriculture industry, the interior ministry said.

Police said the manager and two employees at a centre were suspected of organising the scheme with staff at agricultural firms.

Investigators found around 30 migrants, mainly Senegalese, Nigerian and Somali, each paid 15-20 euros ($22) a day off the books for 10-hour shifts picking potatoes and strawberries or minding livestock, the force said in a statement.

Interior Minister Marco Minniti said inspectors would visit all of Italy's reception centres over the next few days to check for any other cases.

"It is in our interest to guarantee the maximum transparency in the management of migrant centres," Minniti said.

Two of the suspects were held in custody, four placed under house arrest and another eight ordered to stay in the area, police said.

Anyone found guilty under the legislation brought in last year can be jailed for from one to six years and fined 500-1,000 euros for each worker recruited.

($1 = 0.9114 euros) (Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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